VCH entry Royston

Royston Town Council

Royston Parish Church

Royston Cave

Peter Higginbotham's entry for Royston Workhouse

Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies library on line catalogue. The page linked here is the best place to start.























I live near Royston (the one in North Hertfordshire, not the one in Yorkshire).

Royston does not have a long history. The town was founded in the late twelfth century, so is not to be found in the Domesday Book, although there may have been some scattered settlements in the area. The town council's website says it was founded by charter of Richard 1 in 1189. The book A History of Royston written by Alfred Kingston, published in 1906, to this day remains the only substantial history of the town, although the town is included in volume 3 of the Victoria County History of Hertfordshire, which is available on-line (link on left).

The name is thought to derive from one Lady Roisia, and the earliest forms of the name are Crux Roys, or Crux Roaesie, dating from c.1185. The modern name, spelt Roiston, only occurs two centuries later. The town was not a parish in its own right, but divided between the surrounding villages of Barkway, Reed, Therfield, Melbourn and Kneesworth. Of these the first three lay in Hertfordshire and the other two in Cambridgeshire. This situation continued until 1540, when one parish lying in the two counties was formed. Then, in 1897, the whole town was declared to be part of Hertfordshire. Today the county boundary follows the road, the A505, which loops round the north of the town.

The east-west route of that road (A505) echoes the route of the Icknield Way (or one branch of it, there was never a single Icknield Way), whilst the A10 through the town follows the line of Ermine Street, which runs from London to York. The town thus lies at the intersection of two routes, both much older than the town itself. One of the best-known features of the town, which lies at the cross-roads, is an underground chamber called Royston Cave.

A priory was established in the town: its foundation dates from the same early period, and to have been in existence by 1179. The priory of course vanished under Henry VIII, and the existing parish church is all that is left of it, and that was much modified by the Victorians from 1850 onwards. The parish church web site has pictures of the church.

The records of the town are held at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies HALS (in other counties often called the County Record Office), and the abbreviation HALS is used throughout these pages to notes references to their documents.

A major family in the area carried the surname Wortham, they owned the land where my houe stands, and I found quite abit avout the family, which you can find here: but I am not related to them, I just found the family interesting!

Poor relief

Royston's split across two counties had an interesting side-effects: the relief of the poor of the town under the old poor law depended on which part of the town the pauper lived in. However, the two parish adminstrations did get together and build a single workhouse: this lay in the Hertfordshire part of the town, near what is now called 'The Warren'. After the Poor Law Amendement Act of 1834, that workhouse was replaced by a union workhouse. This lay in the Cambridgeshire part of the town, possibly near the present-day fire-station. Neither survives today.

Anyone interested in workhouses must consult Peter Higginbotham's work.

The group of houses where I have connections is called Noons Folly, and I have looked at their history.